Queering Computing and Computing Education

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Oxford University Press
Technological imaginaries underpinning computing and technoscientific practices and pedagogies are predominantly entrenched in masculine, imperialist, and militaristic ideologies. A critical, intersectional queer and trans phenomenological analysis of computing education can offer an essential epistemological and axiological reimagining by centering the analysis of gender and sexuality through the lens of marginalized people’s experiences (queer, trans, and intersecting marginalities). It analyzes how systems of domination and liberation occur through relationships between objects, people, and their environments and how these systems of power multiply in effect when people are situated at multiple axes of oppression (such as gender, sexuality, race, and disability). Complexity, heterogeneity, and fluidity are at the core of queer and trans imaginaries and are essential for challenging the assumed naturalness of biological categories that underpin much of the cisheteronormative harm and violence in K-16 education, STEM disciplinary practices, and technological innovations. This chapter illustrates how foregrounding complexity, heterogeneity, and fluidity can help us critique, construct and transform computational objects, worlds, and learning environments so that queer and trans perspectives, narratives, and experiences are centered and valued. In doing so, ambiguity, fluidity, and body becoming are centered in virtual spaces, thereby offering emancipatory possibilities for supporting critical literacies of gender and sexuality. From a methodological perspective, this chapter argues for adopting methodological approaches rooted in active solidarity with queer and trans people and a commitment to listening to intersectional experiences of gender and sexuality-based marginalization and resilience. Diving deeper into computational worlds and practices, this chapter argues that researchers must pay immediate attention to the area of carceral technologies, including algorithmic bias, from queer and trans intersectional perspectives. This focus of research attention is necessary because computing scholars and educators have identified data science (more broadly) and algorithmic bias (in particular) as an essential domain for furthering education research and practice. Histories of erasure, exclusion, and violence on queer and trans people, both by technologies and as part of the computing profession, are enacted on individual people and reflected in societal biases that inform and shape public experiences of computing and technologies. Overall, this chapter argues that queering computing education and computing education research requires a deep, critical awareness of a multifaceted problem: the historical and ongoing hegemonic, masculine control over programming; the limitations to representation by code that a computer can recognize; the possibilities to queer code and computer architectures; the technological regulation of identity and bodies; and the limits and affordances of technological representation of gender and sexual identity. It is not enough to teach all kids to code if we are not addressing the societal context of coding, the dominant cultures of the technology workforce they might join, and the everyday disciplining interactions with technology that shape who we can become.
This is a draft of a chapter that has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press in the forthcoming book, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education, due for publication in 2021.
Computing, Computing Education, Queer Theory, Gender, Sexuality, Technology, Design, Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Game Studies
Paré, D. (in press/2021). Queering computing andcomputing education. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education.